A distended abdomen is said to be one of the most common complaints that a patient presents to a doctor. In fact, it is said that around one in four Americans have some degree of abdominal distension on a regular basis. However, one needs to understand that a this is merely a symptom, that can be brought on by a plethora of conditions affecting the abdominal cavity and organs. If there is any kind of inflammation or swelling in the abdomen, it could easily lead to the appearance of a large and bloated abdomen.
There are many different diseases and disorders that can lead to abdominal distension and pain.
- Aerophagia (swallowing excess air)
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Dyspepsia (improper digestion)
- Lactose intolerance
- Abdominal surgery
- Bowel obstruction
- Heart failure
- Liver cirrhosis
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Celiac disease
- Tropical sprue
- Kwashiork and other nutritional deficiencies
- Small bowel bacterial overgrowth syndrome
- Hookworm disease
- Kidney stones
- Weight gain and overeating
- Ovarian cancer
There may be certain symptoms that could accompany the distended abdomen, and they will vary according to the disease or condition that the person may be suffering from. These additional symptoms help a person reach a diagnosis about the condition, that may be causing abdominal distension.
- Absence of menstrual period could be an indicator of pregnancy, or of possible other hormonal imbalances in the body.
- Diarrhea or constipation, both, could be indicators of possible parasitic infections of the intestine.
- Excessive belching and flatulence.
- Irritability and mood swings.
- Vomiting and nausea.
- Feeling of fullness in the abdomen may lead to pressure on the bladder, which in turn could lead to frequent urination at night.
The treatment will solely depend on the underlying cause. In cases of infections of the gastrointestinal tract, one will need to take suitable antibiotics or anthelminthics accordingly. For systemic conditions, like heart diseases and liver diseases, one will need to be treated on an emergency basis. As the causes for abdominal distension are so diverse, ranging from malnutrition to overeating, it is not possible to formulate a single treatment plan for all cases. Hence, it is best to first correctly diagnose the condition and only then go in for any kind of treatment.